A skier triggered an avalanche in Colorado on Sunday that carried him 200 to 300 feet, including a drop off a 50-foot cliff—but miraculously, he survived. Authorities say the skier and his mother had to rappel down into the chute they were skiing in Loveland Pass on Saturday, and after rappelling, a piece of their gear did not release correctly. They went back for it Sunday and the son cut across a steep slope on the ridge to get to it, CNN reports. The avalanche was triggered, and 10 minutes later, the mother, who had stayed behind, found her son buried up to his waist in snow. The Summit County Rescue Group responded to the scene, but the mother and son were able to ski out on their own, which the SCRG said was "incredible," the Denver Post reports. The son did suffer some minor injuries.
Experts say skiers should know how to evaluate slope angles, as avalanche risk is highest on slopes that are between 30 and 45 degrees. They also say this appears to have been a case of what is called a "terrain trap." Per Avalanche.org, that's when "a sharply concave part of the runout such as a gully, an abrupt transition, or a crevasse" can cause avalanche debris to pile up deeply. (Read more Colorado stories.)